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Waymo One is opening up to the public in downtown Phoenix without any autonomous specialists behind the wheel. The autonomous, paid ride-hailing service is available around the clock to anyone who downloads Waymo’s app.
This is Waymo’s first public deployment of its fifth-generation Waymo Driver on Jaguar I-PACEs. Currently, rides are available to the general public in downtown Phoenix, but the company plans to expand this service to more of the downtown area in the coming months.
“After invaluable feedback from our Trusted Testers, we’re excited to offer Waymo One to anyone in Downtown Phoenix starting today,” Chris Ludwick, Waymo’s Product Management Director, said. “Our fifth-generation Jaguar I-PACE vehicles offer a trusted space where people feel confident hailing a ride in Downtown Phoenix – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Waymo opened its autonomous ride-hailing service to its Trusted Testers in August after opening it up to its employees just a few months before, but it had been testing in the city since 2017. The company began driving in the Phoenix suburbs of Chandler, Tempe and Mesa in 2020.
Earlier this month, Waymo started giving robotaxi rides, with autonomous specialists present, to and from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The company’s Trusted Testers can hail rides from downtown Phoenix to Phoenix Sky Harbor, and back, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The company is working with Phoenix Sky Harbor to offer pickups and dropoffs from the 44th Street Sky Train station.
Waymo began testing the capabilities of its Driver at Phoenix Sky Harbor with employees in May 2022. The airport provides unique challenges for the Driver, like opportunities to better train its perception capabilities, serving pedestrians carrying different types of luggage and learning driver behavior specific to the airport.
In addition to its operations in Phoenix, Waymo has been working to roll out its service in San Francisco. In March 2022, it announced that it would be giving driverless rides to its employees in the city. The news came less than a month after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued Waymo a Drivered Deployment permit, allowing the company to charge for its autonomous rides.
Waymo began as Google’s self-driving car project in 2009. It has more than 700 vehicles in its fleet, which is made up of a mix of Jaguar I-PACE EVs, Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans and Class 8 trucks.